5 Thanksgiving Family Traditions to start this year for a meaningful holiday

5 Thanksgiving Family Traditions to start this year for a meaningful holiday

Think back to your childhood, most likely you have traditions you remember. Maybe you’ve carried these into your family today. When I was growing up many of our holiday traditions centered on baking. My mother and grandmother loved to bake. One of our Thanksgiving family traditions was making pies from scratch the day before. When I was around 6 years old I was invited to help in the baking. My mom showed me how to use the pastry cutter and blend in the cold butter to make the crust. My grandmother showed me how to roll out the pie crust and transfer it to the baking dish. I’ve made many pies for Thanksgiving over the last three decades, and always think of those holidays of my childhood when I do.

According to Scientific American, “In a series of studies to be published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, hundreds of online subjects described rituals they performed with their families during Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter, from tree decoration to egg hunts. Those who said they performed collective rituals, compared with those who said they did not, felt closer to their families, which made the holidays more interesting, which in turn made them more enjoyable. Most surprising, the types of rituals they described—family dinners with special foods, religious ceremonies, watching the ball drop in Times Square—did not have a direct bearing on enjoyment. But the number of rituals did. Apparently having family rituals makes the holidays better and the more the merrier.” Matthew Hutson, Family Traditions Boost Happiness

In a 2015 study involving approximately 250 teens (aged 15-20), researchers discovered that the practice of family rituals and traditions had a significant and important protective role in increasing social connectedness for teens, and for reducing their experiences of anxiety. Those who participated in family rituals also experienced less depression. It seems that the sense of family connectedness, tradition, and ritual provides deep roots in which our children’s self-esteem and well-being can develop and grow, and protects them from the stresses that so many teens experience. Justin Coulson@JUSTINCOULSON, Family Traditions Help Kids Make Sense of Life

Traditions are what children remember as they age. They are the moments that build connection and create lasting parent child bonds. So, I am sharing some of my favorite Thanksgiving family traditions with you. What’s great is these traditions aren’t going to cost you much and will create wonderful memories for your family in the decades to come.

Thanksgiving Tree

This is something you can do the entire month of November or every day the week leading up to the big meal. Print out the tree and several copies of the leaves. You can even make your tree bigger using a piece of butcher paper and drawing your tree to fit more leaves. Each family member gets a leaf. Have them write something they are thankful for and tape the leaf to the tree. Then at your Thanksgiving meal each person takes turns taking a leaf off the tree and reading it. We have always shared what we are thankful for at dinner, and now that my daughter is old enough to have things she is thankful for I can’t wait to start this tradition. It’s never too early to develop a heart of gratitude.

Pie Baking

Since being at home more due to Covid, I’ve started involving my daughter more in the kitchen. She loves to help pour the ingredients into the bowl. When we make bread she loves to knead the dough. And for cookies she can’t wait to help me push the rolling pin. The results may not be the same as they would if I did it myself. The mess is considerably greater, but the joy on her face and the memories we make are priceless. This will be her first time helping me make our Thanksgiving pie. I think she is really going to like using the pastry cutter! And if you want to know the secret to a great crust, if you haven’t guessed already, it’s fat. That’s right Crisco or lard as your grandmother may have called it. I know you can make a healthier crust, but Thanksgiving is not the day to count calories – am I right?

thanksgiving family traditions


This is a unique year, so if you traditionally volunteer you know things have changed due to Covid restrictions. But, don’t let that stop you. There are still many ways you can serve as a family and help others in the month of November.

  • Host a neighborhood canned food drive. Food banks need your donations more than ever this year. Get your little ones involved by helping to put flyers in mailboxes. Neighbors can bring donations to your door. Leave out a box or crate. Contact free giving for the win! And make sure to go to the grocery store for your own donations and let your child pick them out by using a picture list of things you need.
  • Make cards for a local senior living facility. Seniors have been so isolated this year, and are feeling more lonely. Even though you can’t visit, create holiday cards to cheer them up and let them know someone in their community cares. Check out these ideas from Oriental Trading to make cute cards and small gifts.

Make Homemade Table Decorations

I love craft time with my daughter. Now that she is old enough to sit for awhile and enjoy creating, making homemade table decorations is something we are looking forward to. It’s a great way to include your child and help them take ownership of the holiday preparations. Here are some great ideas:

10 TURKEY CRAFTS FOR KIDS by Haeley Giambalvo, Design Improvised
Thanksgiving kids crafts
painted leaf craft
Thanksgiving vase

Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

One of my absolute favorite memories growing up is watching the parade. As a child I loved seeing the big balloons. As a mom now, I can attest to children’s love of balloons! I can’t wait to watch the parade with my daughter this year. When I got a little older my favorite part was the Broadway performances and those singing on the floats. And no matter what age I am, I still feel the magic when Santa arrives.


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Thanksgiving family traditions

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